Wonderful photograph of a true European wildcat in Romania

This is a really good photograph of a European wildcat taken Lucia Ursu in the Parcul Național Retezat National Park. It is special because this is the true appearance of the European wildcat and on a linked topic the Scottish wildcat is a European wildcat. You can see the difference between the Scottish and this Romanian wildcat. The cat we see in the picture is more stocky and slightly bigger. The tabby coat is wilder and less patterned.

The tail markings are more pronounced with dark banding. If you want to know what a true wildcat looks like this is a good example. I say ‘true’ because this wild cat species is prone to mate with stray domestic cats producing hybrids which are similar in appearance but subtly different.

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The coat is tight and dense almost like felt making it highly effective in keeping the cat warm in harsh winters. The coat’s texture is quite different to the more open texture of the domestic cat. The reason why I mention the domestic cat is because the wildcat is the living ancestor of the domestic cat. What you see here is the forerunner of the domestic cat. Well not quite as it has been decided that the North African wildcat is the domestic cat ancestor and the African wildcat is slenderer and lankier compared to the European counterpart.

The tabby coat of the domestic cat has become more contrasty and the tabby pattern more pronounced during 10k years of domestication.

RELATED: Chinese Mountain cat aka desert cat (2023) – this is China’s version of the European wildcat.

Here is an African wildcat for comparison:

Southern African wildcat
Southern African wildcat. Photo by hyper7pro on Flickr. Note: This cat is clearly semi-domesticated as the photographer wouldn’t have been able to approach so closely.

Here is the Facebook post, the source of the image:

I have included the embedded Facebook post. Sometimes these embedded posts are removed at source. If that has happened it means the post will not be visible here.

This is the translation of the above FB post as per Google Translate:

For cat lovers, we want to share a wonderful specimen of a wildcat (Felis silvestris) from Retezat National Park, captured by our colleague Lucia Ursu, APNR Education and Communities in a monitoring action carried out during the past week. Due to its diverse habitats, natural or slightly modified by human intervention, the Retezat National Park shelters a number of 55 species of mammals, over 23% of the terrestrial mammals of Europe. The park offers conditions for the survival of the most important of the large European carnivores: the lynx (Lynx lynx), the bear (Ursus arctos) and the wolf (Canis lupus). Retezat National Park, one of the 22 national and natural parks managed by the National Forestry Authority – Romsilva is located in the southwest of the country, in Hunedoara County.

European wildcat in Romania. Photo by Lucia Ursu. Source: Facebook.
European wildcat in Romania. Photo by Lucia Ursu. Source: Facebook.

The wildcat is known for its wild nature despite its resemblence to the domestic cat particularly the tabby domestic cat. You see that wildness in these excellent photographs. The wild eyes and expression are superb. The larger and robust size of the European wildcat aids its survival in the forests of Romania.

The park/reserve mentioned is 380.5 km² in size. Wikipedia states: “The Retezat National Park is a protected area located in the Retezat Mountains in Hunedoara county, Romania. Founded in 1935, it is the oldest national park in the country and categorized as a category II IUCN national park.”

RELATED: Infographic on wild cat species in Africa, S. America and S.E. Asia

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